"This cover has one of those really cool machines Tom built by the dozens. The artist knew how to make them appeal to young men of any age. Chrome. Lots of chrome. And yankable chrome handles."
"Artist: Graham Kaye. He had a 50s sensibility that looked back to old sci-fi projections, not to modern styles. Hence this ridiculous thing. You dont know where to start —is this a kite? Why is it trailing three shower nozzles? Did they buy that booster from The Cat in the Hat? And isnt the ship a little small for gallivanting about the cosmos?"
— James Lileks, regarding Tom Swift and the Cosmic Astronauts
"Same guy, attempting to be a bit more modern; here hes combined trends in automobile design with a small whale."
— James Lileks, on Tom Swift and His Ultrasonic Cycloplane
...the laboratories which created it are working at the leading edge of scientific bafflegab, even by raygun Gothic standards. (They're still using vacuum tubes, but very small and glittery ones.) It is a humanoid but obviously non-human machine with a transparent dome for a head (exposing some of those vacuum tubes to view), a polished metal body, and multi-jointed limbs.
Cohen introduced us and explained that Dialta was the prime mover behind the latest Barris-Watford project, an illustrated history of what she called "American Streamlined Moderne." Cohen called it "raygun Gothic." Their working title was The Airstream Futuropolis: The Tomorrow That Never Was. [snip]
Over coffee, Cohen produced a fat manila envelope full of glossies. I saw the winged statues that guard the Hoover Dam, forty-foot concrete hood ornaments leaning steadfastly into an imaginary hurricane. I saw a dozen shots of Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson's Wax Building, juxtaposed with the covers of old Amazing Stories pulps, by an artist named Frank R. Paul; the employees of Johnson's Wax must have felt as though they were walking into one of Paul's spray-paint pulp utopias. Wright's building looked as though it had been designed for people who wore white togas and Lucite sandals. I hesitated over one sketch of a particularly grandiose prop-driven airliner, all wing, like a fat symmetrical boomerang with windows in unlikely places. Labeled arrows indicated the locations of the grand ballroom and two squash courts. It was dated 1936.
"This thing couldn't have flown...?" I looked at Dialta Downes.
"Oh, no, quite impossible, even with those twelve giant props; but they loved the look, don't you see? New York to London in less than two days, first-class dining rooms, private cabins, sun decks, dancing to jazz in the evening... The designers were populists, you see; they were trying to give the public what it wanted. What the public wanted was the future."
— The Gernsback Continuum, by William Gibson